What were the circumstances that contributed to the rise of the Wesleyan Revival in England, in life of the rampant growth of Enlightenment relative to 18th century England.
Why did the revival succeed?
What was the roll of missionaries in bringing Christanity to the Gobal South.
How would this missionary enterprise be viewed or evaluated? Are missionaries better understood as persons thought of as humanitarians on a crusade or as agents of western imperialism?
What were the circumstances that contributed to the rise of the
Wesleyan Revival in England, in life of the rampant growth
of Enlightenment relative to 18th century England?
Why did the revival succeed?
One important contributing factor to the revival was his eclectic use of sources. There is no tradition in Christianity that he did not draw from in his work. He focused on the "personal" elements of divinity: how God can be personally involved in our life. This is what Wesley called the "primary" religion: the transfiguration of the person and a rejection of impersonal forces in bearing God into the world of sinful man.
The Anglican church at the time, according to John Kent, was becoming moderate, rational and scholastic. Like most protestant movements, Wesley was able to exploit institutional weakness and liturgical consciousness in favor of a religious experience that was more accessible.
Polhemus describes the Enlightenment in England as debauched. Immorality was rampant, and the church of England seems to have had no way to intervene. Importantly, social inequality was rising as the result of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the Empire. Gambling, in particular, was a favorite pastime in this era. Sensual pleasure dominated, and greed was considered a social good. Fashion ruled, and people sought to out spend each other in extravagance, whether they had the money or not. To cite one example, Polhemus reports that, in 1684, the amount of distilled spirits produced and consumed in England was about 527,000 gallons. By 1727, this figure was 3.6 million gallons. This is a huge jump that in no way can be related to any population increase. The time period is about a generation. Hence, something happened in between.
Wesley himself remarks as to the extreme levels of poverty and extravagance in England, and speaks at some length about English conditions. His Sermon 130, "National Sins and Miseries" says this in striking language:
It is a great affliction to be deprived of bread; but it is a still greater to be deprived of our senses. And this is the case with thousands upon thousands of our countrymen at this day. Wide-spread poverty (though not in so high a degree) I have seen several years ago. But so widespread a lunacy I never saw, nor, I believe the oldest man alive. Thousands of plain, honest people throughout the land are driven utterly out of their senses, by means of the poison which is so diligently spread through every city and town in the kingdom. . . .And are we not a generation of epicures Is not our belly our god Are not eating and drinking our chief delight, our highest happiness Is it not the main study (I fear, the only study) of many honorable men to enlarge the pleasure of tasting When was luxury (not in food only, but in dress, furniture, equipage) carried to such an height in Great Britain ever since it was a nation We have lately extended the British empire almost over the globe.
This paints a picture of England. As a result, Wesley concluded several things: a) the present churches are failures, b) that the end times are coming, and c) mass repentance alone can save us.
Polhemus goes further. He writes that the religious situation in England mirrored the moral one. The Puritan fervor was gone, with nothing to take its place. Wesley again, gives us a clue as to the condition of the church(es) in England:
Why has Christianity done so little good? Plainly, because we have forgot, or at least not duly attended to, those solemn words of our Lord, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." It was the remark of a holy man, several years ago, "Never was there before a people in the Christian Church, who had so much of the power of God among them, with so little self-denial." Indeed the work of God does go on, and in a surprising manner, notwithstanding this capital defect; but it cannot go on in the same degree as it otherwise would; neither can the word of God have its full effect, unless the hearers of it "deny themselves, and take up their cross daily." (Sermon 116)
For a Protestant, this is a striking observation. In general, the protestant movement from Luther on rejected ascetic practice as Catholic, monkish and unnecessary. They seemed to imply a salvation by works. Yet, Wesley is preaching that the lack of asceticism is the problem. When the church becomes worldly, it cannot fight the spirit of the world.
The connection to social inequality can easily be seen. In sermon 116, Wesley spends much time decrying the lack of charity for the poor. The state does little, the church does little, so the poor continue to suffer. Asceticism for Wesley was to fast and pray, but most of all, to give as much as you possible can to those who are suffering. This is the central moral concept of Christianity, and the central concept most conspicuously ignored.
In addition, the 17th century saw something else. The disturbing trend of anti-dogmatic and rationalist thinkers with the church(es). Few were exempt from this. This movement, within the Church of england, rejected ritual, doctrine and asceticism of any kind. It rejected any appeal to tradition or the church fathers. The Enlightenment had taken over many important church positions in England. It sought to reduce ...
The circumstances that contributed to the rise of the Wesleyan Revival in England is determined. The roll of missionaries in bringing Christanity to the Global South is determined.